Many people are probably discouraged form purchasing artichokes because they may be mystified as to how to go about preparing them. As this article will show it is relatively easy to prepare this nutritious and delicious vegetable.
As well as being good for you artichokes are rather attractive to look at and can make a visually appealing starter for a dinner party. Artichokes originated in the Mediterranean and belong to the same family as thistles and sun flowers. The part we eat is actually the bud of the flower. Peak seasons for this vegetable are spring and autumn.
When selecting an artichoke you should look for one with a globe that is deep green and has tight leafs, also check it’s weight and if it is heavy that’s also a good indicator. Another good check for freshness is to push the leaves against one another if they make a squeaking noise then that’s a sign they are fresh.
To prepare your artichoke you should run it for a while under the cold water tap to get it nice and clean. Then pull off the lower petals and cut off the bottom stem so that it is flush with the base. The next step is to cut off about half an inch from the pointed top of the vegetable. Use scissors to cut off the tips of the leaves to get rid of any thorns. Make sure the cutting equipment in use is stainless steel as iron or aluminum can make the artichoke change to a undesirable black or blue color. You can help preserve the vegetables coloring by dipping it in lemon juice.
Cooking time will depend on the size of the artichoke; you can expect around 2 ounces of edible flesh from a medium to large vegetable. Artichokes can be boiled or steamed. To boil an artichoke, use a large saucepan with 3 inches deep of boiling water. Stand the vegetable upright and place a lid on the pot and gently boil for around 25 to 40 minutes. You will know it’s ready if you can easily pull out a petal from the middle. According to taste you can add lemon juice, oil and seasonings while boiling. Once you have finished cooking the artichoke take it out of the pot and leave it on a rack upside down to drain.
Alternatively you can steam cook your artichoke. To do this follow the same preparation steps then place it on a rack 1 to 2 inches above boiling water. Place the lid on the pot and allow it to steam from between 25 to 45 minutes. Again being able to easily pull a petal from the middle will tell you when it is ready.
Hopefully this article has shown you how easy it is to prepare this vegetable and will inspire you to try it out. As well as the great taste you may be interested to know that artichokes can lower bad cholesterol and contain many antioxidants and bioflavonoids that may help keep you healthy.